- Runners who have recently increased the intensity or duration of their exercise
- Middle-aged people who play sports, such as tennis or basketball, only on the weekends
- Runners who wear worn-out shoes
- Runners who run on hilly terrain
- People with psoriasis or high blood pressure
- Individuals who are obese
More serious cases of Achilles tendinitis can lead to tendon tears (ruptures) that may require surgical repair. The pain associated with Achilles tendinitis typically begins as a mild ache in the back of the leg or above the heel after running or other sports activity. Episodes of more severe pain may occur after prolonged running, stair climbing, or sprinting.
Treatments for Achilles tendinitis include strengthening exercises, over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen, icing, and compression. Surgery is sometimes needed in more severe cases.
- Deep Vein Thrombosis, in which a blood clot formed in a vein can move into the lungs
- Peripheral Arterial Disease, in which blood flow is obstructed to the arms or legs due to the narrowing of blood vessels
- Aortic Aneurysms, a bulge in the body’s main artery, the bursting of which can cause serious bleeding and death
- Other conditions such as mesenteric arterial disease, chronic venous disease, renal artery disease, and cerebrovascular disease
Duplex ultrasounds can also be used to map a patient’s veins before or after a coronary bypass.
- Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, which is often related to aging or to an injury.
- Autoimmune arthritis, which happens when your body’s immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake. Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common form of this kind of arthritis.
- Juvenile arthritis, a type of arthritis that happens in children.
- Infectious arthritis, an infection that has spread from another part of the body to the joint.
- Psoriatic arthritis, which affects people with psoriasis.
- Gout, a painful type of arthritis that happens when too much uric acid builds up in the body. It often starts in the big toe.
Osteoarthritis (OA) symptoms range from stiffness and mild pain that comes and goes to pain that doesn’t stop, even when you are resting or sleeping. Sometimes OA causes your joints to feel stiff after you haven’t moved them for a while, like after riding in the car.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease, a type of illness that makes your body attack itself. RA causes pain, swelling, and stiffness that lasts for hours. People with RA often feel tired or run a fever.
Gout is one of the most painful kinds of arthritis. It most often happens in the big toe, but other joints can also be affected. Swelling may cause the skin to pull tightly around the joint and make the area red or purple and very tender.
Treatments can vary for different types of arthritis but often include rest, icing, hot baths, exercise, a healthy diet, use of special shoes or a cane, and medications like ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen.
- Keep your feet clean, dry, and cool
- Wear clean socks
- Don’t walk barefoot in public areas
- Wear flip-flops in locker room showers
- Keep your toenails clean and clipped short
Treatments usually include over-the-counter antifungal cream, but, for more serious infections, prescription medicines are sometimes prescribed.
- Wearing tight, narrow shoes
- Inherited structural defects
- Stress on the foot
- Medical conditions, such as arthritis
Signs and symptoms of a bunion can include:
- A bulging bump on the outside of the base of your big toe
- Swelling, redness or soreness around your big toe joint
- Thickening of the skin at the base of your big toe
- Corns or calluses, which often develop where the first and second toes overlap
- Persistent or intermittent pain
Treatments include changing shoes, padding, taping, splinting, wearing wide-toed shoes, using padded shoe inserts, icing, and medications like ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen. Surgery is sometimes performed in serious cases.
- Wear narrow shoes such as high heels
- Have inherited defects such as hammer toes
Corns and calluses are not contagious but may become painful if they get too thick. In people with diabetes or decreased circulation, they can lead to more serious foot problems.
Treatments include changing shoes, using non-medicated pads, use of a washcloth or pumice stone, and cortisone injections for serious cases. Your podiatrist may shave part of the corn or callus off if it causes serious pain. Surgery may be recommended in rare cases.
- Muscle weakness
- Friedreich’s Ataxia
- Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease
- Cerebral Palsy
- Spina Bifida
- Inherited defects
The origin and cause of the cavus foot usually determines its symptoms. People with an inherited cavus foot who are sufficiently flexible sometimes do not suffer any symptoms. For those who do suffer, symptoms include:
- Shoe-fitting problems
- Knee pain
- Back pain
- Ankle arthritis
- Achilles tendonitis
- Hammertoes or claw toes
Treatments include special shoes, braces, and orthotics. In some cases, surgery will be required to effectively treat the symptoms.
- Injuries, including cuts, fractures, or burns
- Skin disorders, such as eczema, athlete’s foot, chicken pox, and shingles
- Chronic swelling of your arms or legs
- Intravenous drug use
Symptoms of cellulitis can include:
- Fever and chills
- Skin dimpling
- Swollen glands or lymph nodes
- A rash with painful, red, tender skin. The skin may blister and scab over.
Cellulitis is usually treated with antibiotics. They may be oral in mild cases, or intravenous (through the vein) for more severe cases. Other treatments include cleaning the affected area, elevation, and ointments.
- Poor circulation
- Warmness in the feet
- Redness, swelling, and discoloration
- Diabetic ulcers
Treatments can include controlling blood sugar levels, casting/immobilizing the foot, special shoes, or braces. Serious cases may require surgery.
- Diabetic shoes, socks, and sneakers
- Routine foot screenings
- Checking your own feet on a daily basis
- Keeping good personal hygiene
- Keeping blood sugar levels stable
It’s essential to take good care of your feet if you have diabetes; complications from ulcers and infections can be severe and even life threatening.
- Tightness in the Achilles tendon
- Hammer toe
- Uneven leg length
- Wearing high heels
- Ankle injuries
- Plantar Fasciitis
Equinus can cause a variety of foot problems, including:
- Ankle pain
- Shin splints
- Calf cramping
Treatments may include splints, heel lifts, orthotics, physical therapy, and stretching. Surgery may be necessary in rare cases.
- Flexible flat foot, in which the arch of the foot can be seen only when the feet are lifted off the ground (often painless)
- Short Achilles tendon, which can often cause people to walk on their toes
- Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction, which results from injury to, swelling of, or tearing of the tendon connecting your calves to your ankles
People who are at high risk of flat feet include:
- Individuals with a family history of flat feet
- Obese people
- People suffering from hypertension
- Individuals with Cerebral Palsy and other diseases that affect the muscles
Treatments include orthotics, special diet and exercise programs, special shoes or supports, medications like ibuprofen and naproxen. Surgery may be recommended in rare cases.
- Football and basketball players
- Gymnasts and dancers
- People who trip or stumble on uneven ground
Pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty walking on the affected foot or ankle are the most common symptoms of a sprained or fractured foot or ankle.
Treatments include rest, icing, compression, and elevation. In rare cases, a podiatrist may use metal plates or screws to fix broken bones.
- Be partial (the bone is only partially cracked, not all the way through)
- Be complete (the bone is broken through and is in 2 parts)
- Occur on one or both sides of the ankle
Severe ankle fractures may require surgery. Fractures may need surgery if:
- The ends of the bone are out of line with each other (displaced)
- The fracture extends into the ankle joint
- Tendons or ligaments (tissues that hold muscles and bones together) are torn
- Your doctor thinks your bones may not heal properly without surgery
- In children, the fracture involves the part of the ankle bone where bone is growing
When surgery is needed, it will likely involve inserting metal pins, screws, or plates to hold the bones in place as the fracture heals. Casts, splints, and crutches are often prescribed as part of the surgical healing process. Pain can be addressed using elevation and medications like ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen.
- Injuries, diseases, or abnormal development of the muscles or bones of your legs or feet
- Movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease
- Diseases such as arthritis or multiple sclerosis
- Vision or balance problems
Walking abnormalities are unusual and uncontrollable walking patterns. They are usually due to diseases or injuries to the legs, feet, brain, spinal cord, or inner ear. Some common abnormal gates include:
- Propulsive gait: a stooped, stiff posture with the head and neck bent forward
- Scissors gait: legs flexed slightly at the hips and knees like crouching, with the knees and thighs hitting or crossing in a scissors-like movement
- Spastic gait: a stiff, foot-dragging walk caused by a long muscle contraction on one side
- Steppage gait: foot drop where the foot hangs with the toes pointing down, causing the toes to scrape the ground while walking, requiring someone to lift the leg higher than normal when walking
- Waddling gait: a duck-like walk that may appear in childhood or later in life
Abnormal gait may be caused by diseases in different areas of the body. General causes of abnormal gait may include:
- Arthritis of the leg or foot joints
- Conversion disorder (a psychological disorder)
- Foot problems (such as a callus, corn, ingrown toenail, wart, pain, skin sore, swelling, or spasms)
- Injections into muscles that causes soreness in the leg or buttocks
- Legs that are of different lengths
- Shin splints
- Shoe problems
- Torsion of the testis
Treatment of walking problems depends on the cause. Physical therapy, surgery, or mobility aids may help.
- Ingrown toes
- Corns and calluses
- Athlete’s foot and fungal nails
- Plantar fasciitis
- Hammer toes
Diabetes can also cause many problems for the limbs and should be kept under control to ensure healthy feet.
Treatments to prevent age-related foot problems can include specialized footwear and socks, regular cleaning, and moisturizer.
Normally, uric acid dissolves in the blood. It passes through the kidneys and out of the body in urine. But sometimes uric acid can build up and form needle-like crystals. When they form in your joints, it is very painful. The crystals can also cause kidney stones.
Often, gout first attacks your big toe. It can also attack ankles, heels, knees, wrists, fingers, and elbows. At first, gout attacks usually get better in days. Eventually, attacks last longer and happen more often.
You are more likely to get gout if you:
- Are a man
- Have family member with gout
- Are overweight or obese
- Drink alcohol
- Have been exposed to lead
- Eat too many foods rich in purines
- Take medications including diuretics, aspirin, levodopa, and niacin
Gout can be hard to diagnose. Your doctor may take a sample of fluid from an inflamed joint to look for crystals. Gout can be treated with a variety of medicines.
Hammertoes usually start out as mild deformities and get progressively worse over time. In the earlier stages, hammertoes are flexible and the symptoms can often be managed with noninvasive measures. But if left untreated, hammertoes can become more rigid and will not respond to nonsurgical treatment.
Because of the progressive nature of hammertoes, they should receive early attention. Hammertoes never get better without some kind of intervention. Hammertoes may be caused by:
- Muscle/tendon imbalance
- Inherited defect
- Ill-fitting shoes
Common symptoms of hammertoes include:
- Pain or irritation of the affected toe when wearing shoes
- Corns and calluses
- Contracture of the toe
- Open sores (in severe cases)
There are a variety of treatment options for hammertoes including non medicated pads, changing footwear, orthotics, corticosteroid injections, splints, straps, and medications including ibuprofen. Surgery is sometimes needed in serious cases.
- Heel spurs
- Bruises incurred while walking, running, or jumping on hard surfaces
- Wearing poorly constructed footwear (such as flimsy flip-flops)
- Being overweight
Preventing heel pain involves wearing well-fitting shoes with shock-absorbent soles, warming up and stretching before exercise, resting and nutrition, and losing weight if overweight or obese.
But infectious bacteria can make you ill. They reproduce quickly in your body. Many give off chemicals called toxins, which can damage tissue and make you sick. Examples of bacteria that cause infections include Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and E. coli.
Antibiotics are the usual treatment. When you take antibiotics, follow the directions carefully. Each time you take antibiotics, you increase the chances that bacteria in your body will learn to resist them causing antibiotic resistance. Later, you could get or spread an infection that those antibiotics cannot cure.
- Bacterial and fungal infections
- Ingrown nails
Keeping your nails clean, dry, and trimmed can help you avoid some problems. Do not remove the cuticle, which can cause infection.
Our nails often reflect our general state of health. Changes in the nail, such as discoloration or thickening, can signal health problems, including liver and kidney disease, heart and lung conditions, anemia, and diabetes.
Symptoms that could signal nail problems include changes in color, shape and/or thickness, swelling of the skin around the nails, bleeding or discharge, and pain.
- Scar tissue from radiation therapy or surgical removal of lymph nodes
- Inherited conditions in which lymph nodes or vessels are absent or abnormal
Lymphedema signs and symptoms, which occur in your affected arm or leg, include:
- Swelling of part or all of your arm or leg, including fingers or toes
- A feeling of heaviness or tightness
- Restricted range of motion
- Aching or discomfort
- Recurring infections
- Hardening and thickening of the skin (fibrosis)
Treatment can help control symptoms and includes exercise, compression devices, skin care, and massage.
- Loss of hearing on one side
- Ringing in ears (tinnitus)
- Dizziness, vertigo and balance problems
- Facial numbness and very rarely, weakness
The tumor can also eventually cause numbness or paralysis of the face. If it grows large enough, it can press against the brain, becoming life-threatening.
Acoustic neuromas can be difficult to diagnose, because the symptoms are similar to those of middle ear problems. Ear exams, hearing tests, and scans can show if you have it.
If the tumor stays small, you may only need to have it checked regularly. If you do need treatment, surgery and radiation are options. If the tumors affect both hearing nerves, it is often because of a genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis.
- Tingling in the feet or lower legs
The pain can be intense and require treatment to relieve the discomfort. The loss of sensation in the feet may also increase the possibility that foot injuries will go unnoticed and develop into ulcers or lesions that become infected.
In some cases, diabetic neuropathy can be associated with difficulty walking and some weakness in the foot muscles.
Treatments include controlling blood sugar levels with diet and medication, wearing proper fitting shoes, regularly checking the feet for cuts and infection, warm baths, elastic stockings, regular walking, and medications like analgesics, antidepressants (at low doses), and some anticonvulsant medications.
- Calcaneovalgus foot, which occurs when the foot seems to bend upwards
- Congenital vertical talus, which has a similar upward bend to calcaneovalgus, but is more inflexible and often related to other congenital defects
- Clubfoot, which is a more serious deformity that involves the feet being twisted
Some children with pediatric foot deformities do not have any symptoms, and those with mild symptoms are often prescribed nonsurgical treatments, but surgery is sometimes required in serious cases.
- Blood pooling as a result of inactivity
- Being obese
- Injuries to the limbs
- Inherited defects
Symptoms vary and may include:
- Throbbing or burning
- Hardness, warmness or tenderness of the afflicted area
Treatments may include medications like ibuprofen, antibiotics (if an infection has also occurred), warm compresses, compression stockings, and various blood-thinners (if the diagnosis is Deep Vein Thrombosis).
If the band is short, you’ll have a high arch, and if it’s long, you’ll have a low arch, or what some people call flat feet. A pad of fat in your heel covers the plantar fascia to help absorb the shock of walking. Damage to the plantar fascia can be a cause of heel pain.
As a person gets older, the plantar fascia becomes less like a rubber band and more like a rope that doesn’t stretch very well. The fat pad on the heel becomes thinner and can’t absorb as much of the shock caused by walking. The extra shock damages the plantar fascia and may cause it to swell, tear or bruise. You may notice a bruise or swelling on your heel.
Other risk factors for plantar fasciitis include:
- Overweight and obesity
- Spending most of the day on your feet
- Becoming very active in a short period of time
- Being flat-footed or having a high arch
Treatments include cutting back on excessive running or walking, orthotics, splints, taping, corticosteroid injections, weight loss, stretching exercises, and medications like acetophenamin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. Surgery is rarely required.
- Foot and heel pain
- Arch pain
- Knee problems
- Diabetic nerve damage/neuropathy
Orthotics can be essential as a part of preventative podiatry; combined with physical therapy, orthotics, if used early enough, can often reduce or eliminate the need for surgery.
- Pain in the base of the big toe
- Pain when walking, especially when wearing uncomfortable shoes
- Warmth and swelling
- Redness of the big toe
Treatments include orthotics, special shoes, corticosteroid injections, and medications like acetophenamin, ibuprofen, and naproxen.
They usually pose no health hazard but may produce a dull aching in the legs after prolonged standing and indicate more severe venous disease. The exact cause of spider veins is unknown, although the primary factors that contribute to spider veins are believed to include:
- Heredity defects
- Sun damage
- Hormonal influences
More than 40 percent of women have some form of varicose vein condition including spider veins, with an increasing incidence of venous disease as one gets older, so that up to 80 percent of women have some form of venous disease by age 80. Slightly more women than men have varicose and spider veins.
Treatments include exercise such as walking or cycling, weight loss, compression stockings, and avoiding sitting or standing for long periods of time.
Bursitis and tendinitis are both common conditions that involve inflammation of the soft tissue around muscles and bones, most often in the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, or ankle.
Tendinitis usually happens after repeated injury to an area such as the wrist or ankle. It causes pain and soreness around a joint. Some common forms of tendinitis are named after the sports that increase their risk. They include:
- Tennis elbow
- Golfer’s elbow
- Pitcher’s shoulder
- Swimmer’s shoulder
- Jumper’s knee
A bursa is a small, fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion between a bone and other moving parts: muscles, tendons, or skin. Bursae are found throughout the body. Bursitis occurs when a bursa becomes inflamed (redness and increased fluid in the bursa).
Treatments include rest, wrapping or elevating the affected area, and medicines can help. Ice is helpful for recent, severe injuries. Other treatments include stretching, altering or eliminating various sports movements, ultrasound, physical therapy, steroid injections, and surgery.
If ignored, the infection can spread and possibly impair your ability to work or even walk. The resulting thicker nails are difficult to trim and make walking painful when wearing shoes. Onychomycosis can also be accompanied by a secondary bacterial or yeast infection in or about the nail plate.
- Walking barefoot in damp areas such as swimming pools, locker rooms, or showers
- Injury to the nail bed
- Diabetes, circulatory problems, or immune-deficiency conditions
- Excessive perspiration and/or a history of athlete’s foot
Symptoms are characterized by a progressive change in a toenail’s quality and color, which is often ugly and embarrassing.
A daily routine of cleansing over a period of many months may temporarily suppress mild infections. White markings that appear on the surface of the nail can be filed off, followed by the application of an over-the-counter liquid antifungal agent. However, even the best over-the-counter treatments may not prevent a fungal infection from coming back.
Treatments may include prescribing topical or oral medication, and debridement (removal of diseased nail matter and debris) of an infected nail.
Prevention includes the regular cleaning and clipping of toenails, avoiding wearing hosiery that is too tight, changing shoes and socks more than once a day, and avoiding applying polish to nails that appear infected.
- Abrasions, which include road rashes
- Incisions, which are caused by sharp objects and often bleed profusely
- Lacerations, which are similar to incisions but involving deeper cuts and tearing
- Punctures, small holes that may be deep and may damage internal organs
- Avulsions, which involve major skin tearing (usually from serious accidents) and often bleed very rapidly
While small wounds may be treated at home, larger wounds may require medical intervention where they are treated with medical glue, stitches, or sutures.
Your veins have one-way valves that help keep blood flowing toward your heart. If the valves are weak or damaged, blood can back up and pool in your veins. This causes the veins to swell, which can lead to varicose veins.
Varicose veins are very common. You are more at risk if you are older, a female, obese, don’t exercise or have a family history. They can also be more common in pregnancy. Doctors often diagnose varicose veins from a physical exam. Sometimes you may need additional tests.
Exercising, losing weight, elevating your legs when resting, and not crossing them when sitting can help keep varicose veins from getting worse. Wearing loose clothing and avoiding long periods of standing can also help. If varicose veins are painful or you don’t like the way they look, your doctor may recommend procedures to remove them.
- Common warts, which often appear on your fingers
- Plantar warts, which show up on the soles of your feet
- Genital warts, which are a sexually transmitted disease
- Flat warts, which appear in places you shave frequently
In children, warts often go away on their own. In adults, they tend to stay. If they hurt or bother you, or if they multiply, you can remove them. Chemical skin treatments usually work. If not, various freezing, surgical and laser treatments can remove warts.
The most familiar use of x-rays is checking for broken bones, but x-rays are also used in other ways. For example, chest x-rays can spot pneumonia. Mammograms use x-rays to look for breast cancer.
There are many types of x-rays which may be used for different purposes. Computed tomography (CT), fluoroscopy, and radiography (the “conventional x-ray,” including mammography) all use ionizing radiation to generate images of the body. Ionizing radiation is a form of radiation that has enough energy to potentially cause damage to DNA and may elevate a person’s lifetime risk of developing cancer.
Different types of X-rays include:
- Radiography: a single image is recorded for later evaluation. Mammography is a special type of radiography to image the internal structures of breasts.
- Fluoroscopy: a continuous x-ray image is displayed on a monitor, allowing for real-time monitoring of a procedure or passage of a contrast agent (“dye”) through the body. Fluoroscopy can result in relatively high radiation doses, especially for complex interventional procedures (such as placing stents or other devices inside the body), which require fluoroscopy be administered for a long period of time.
- CT scans: many x-ray images are recorded as the detector moves around the patient’s body. A computer reconstructs all the individual images into cross-sectional images or “slices” of internal organs and tissues. A CT exam involves a higher radiation dose than conventional radiography because the CT image is reconstructed from many individual x-ray projections.
When you have an x-ray, you may wear a lead apron to protect certain parts of your body. The amount of radiation you get from an x-ray is extremely small. For example, a chest x-ray gives out a radiation dose similar to the amount of radiation you’re naturally exposed to from the environment over 10 days.